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Being Productive Is About Using The Morning Well. Here’s The Trick You Should Start Today.

Being Productive Is About Using The Morning Well. Here’s The Trick You Should Start Today.

Being productive can be hard. Perhaps you’ve fallen into a routine of getting up at a certain time, getting into work and slumping down at your desk or place of work with no energy, motivation or direction. We live in a society where procrastination is literally at our fingertips with social media and access to smart phones causing endless distractions and taking away our focus.

However, there is a way to achieve this – a way to achieve optimal performance and productivity – that can change your whole outlook on the traditional work life and transforming each day into a happier, more productive and flexible option.

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It’s All About The Mornings

If you’re not a morning person then it may be time to change your mindset – research has found there is an ideal structure to your day that creates optimum results and also the flexibility we crave when we’re stuck in our 9-5 framework. The problem with our current 9-5 tradition of working is that it forces us to work at times when our brain isn’t motivated. We have the mindset that we have a long day to get our work done which causes our brain to go into relaxation mode and it becomes harder to focus.

Like exercise, our bodies gain better results when we do short, intense periods rather than long, drawn out methods. It’s then in the recovery process where growth occurs – like muscles recovering after an intense workout.

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So what does this mean? Well, the best way to achieve optimum work productivity is to focus intensely for the first 3 hours of your day. This is the optimum time that our brains work – straight after sleep when willpower and self-control is at its maximum.

How The First 3 Hours Can Save Your Day

It may not feel like it when you first wake up but your energy levels are at their optimum following sleep and these energy levels are gradually depleted as the day progresses meaning it’s harder for you to focus and make decisions.

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How often have you dragged yourself to work and headed straight for the coffee machine because you can’t possibly function until you’re at least on your third cup of caffeine? This is where you’re potentially going wrong – the first 3 hours of your day will ultimately make you or break you.

It’s during this period that you can power through and make the most of your day. Creating a routine where the first 3 hours are intense periods of work, with pure focus and no distractions will actually cause you to complete the majority of your work at a more optimum level leaving the rest of the day for your brain to relax and deal with less taxing projects.

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In fact, if you liken it to exercise, doing a 3-hour intense work period will cause you to reap the benefits later on in the day because the rest of the day will become a recovery period. After exercise, this is when your muscles start to recover and get stronger, and similarly after working your brain intensely for 3 hours, the recovery period afterwards causes the mind to loosely wander and creative ideas and inspirations start to enter.

How To Implement The 3-Hour Morning

Your morning is the key to a successful day so it’s best to start getting into a morning mindset. That means getting to bed at a reasonable time managing to get a full night’s sleep so you wake refreshed and ready for the day.

  1. Wake as early as possible: Try and start a routine of getting up early because the more hours you have in the morning, the more time you have to be productive for the rest of the day. It’s not actually as hard as you think, after a couple of weeks your body and mind will start to get used to early rises and it will begin to become second nature (especially when you realise the true benefits).
  2. Eat a good protein-rich breakfast: It’s essential that you start the day with a good eating routine and that means the right kind of fuel for your brain and the rest of your body so you can work at your optimum level first thing. A protein-rich breakfast will help regulate blood-sugar levels and stop hunger pangs later on in the morning.
  3. Avoid stimulants: Getting up early, you’ll be tempted to grab that cup of coffee but avoid anything that will wake you up unnaturally. A good way to wake up is to switch your water to cold in the last minute of showering to give you a boost.
  4. Meditate: Meditation is an amazing way to focus and clear the mind and doing this first thing will help calm your whole body and set your mindset up for the morning. It helps give clarity for any goals you have or even bring inspiration to a problem you might be having. You can do this before you leave the house, on your commute to work if you have one, or once you arrive at work.
  5. Put away all distractions: The beauty of getting up early is that there are less people to distract you or cause you stress. Make sure you put away your phone and make a conscious effort not to check social media or emails for the next 3 hours. Listening to a song on repeat or music such as sounds of nature are a good way to help focus the brain and stop outside noises from interrupting your concentration.
  6. Once done, take a mental break and notice the calming difference and sense of achievement: This may seem like an unconventional way to use your mornings and possibly take time to get used to, but it’s all worth it for the sense of achievement and efficiency you’ll feel. The chances are this act of focusing for 3 hours will have caused you to get much more work done than a whole typical day put together. After the 3 hours, go for a walk and take a break – your mind will feel relaxed which will then be the optimum time for creativity to occur allowing the best ideas to come to you.

So remember to protect your mornings. Some of us will find this hard especially if, say, you have kids to run around after or have a particularly long commute but adopting the mindset of making your mornings precious and distraction-free can help structure a much more productive and happy day.

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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